The 1stGig resources section provides a lot of information about how to write a good cover letter, and a well written cover letter will enhance your application. However, there are a few instances when a cover letter is either inappropriate or not possible.
Today, many organizations require that you submit your application completely online, but there are different mechanisms being used for those applications. In some situations, you will be completing an online application form without any option for submitting an extra file, such as a cover letter. If that’s the system, then there’s nothing you can do about it.
However, be alert to the option for uploading a resume. If you can upload more than one file, you can upload a resume and a cover letter or you can combine the letter and the resume into one file and upload that one document. If you are combining the letter and resume in one file, put the letter first and be sure to include a page break between the letter and the resume.
Some organizations may ask you to submit your resume via email, in which case you can attach a cover letter and a resume or simply paste the body of your cover letter into the email.
What’s most important is that you read the job description and the application instructions very carefully. Some employers will specifically say “No cover letters.” If they say that, don’t send one!
I have also seen online applications that did not allow for a cover letter, but that did have a field on the application form labeled something like, “Why should we hire you for this job?” That field can be used to provide the type of information you would normally put in your cover letter.
As you prepare your application materials, keep in mind that everything must be grammatically correct with no typographical errors. Have someone you trust, and who has excellent writing skills, review all of your application materials before you submit them. Remember that the first person to read your materials is almost always looking for a reason to discard your application as a way to narrow down the field. Any errors will provide that reader with a reason to deny you consideration for the position.